Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Long Over Due Reflection: Gaelic Football in England

The Spring 2010 semester was a fast paced and jam packed semester I will never forget. I was fortunate to travel to England and Mexico, be a teacher's assistant for 2 classes, be a program leader for the YMCA's Active Kids after school program, and take an outdoor adventure education class at Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks. With so much going on this semester I felt like I always had something going on and little free time. However, I'm not complaining because this semester proved to be far above average and the experience has taught me several lessons. Now as summer approaches, I have the time to reflect on the great times I had.

To start the semester, I had the opportunity to play with the New York Collegiate Gaelic Football club in the English Collegiate Gaelic Football Championship held in Birmingham, England. Pictured above is some live game action. My journey started in December, in which I had to try out for the team in freezing temperatures. On Tuesday and Thursday nights we practiced outdoors, under the lights of Gaelic Park in the Bronx. After making the team, freezing practices continued until President's Day weekend in which we traveled to England for the tournament. Practicing in the cold was not easy but as a team we knew it was necessary to be successful. With out minds on winning a cup, we forgot about the cold. As my Spring semester at Cortland began I had to miss weekday practices but would drive the 4 hours to the Bronx on the weekends for practice.
When President's day weekend came in February, we had four days to travel fly to England, play 7 games in two days, and see some sights. The NY Collegiate Gaelic Football team had a very impressive performance. We were considered the foreigners and we turned out to win every game until our loss in the semi-finals. We shocked the locals with our performance but lost in the semis to the team from East London that would advance to win the finals. Lesson to be learned, never underestimate the competition.
The trip as a whole was incredible. It was my first time in England and I got to see the beautiful cities of London, Birmingham and Manchester. I got the chance to experience another culture to help me understand cultural differences and values. England values their "football" much more than America values "soccer". Football is a way of life in England and everyday life stops in England on game day.
For those who don't know Gaelic Football, it is the national sport of Ireland. A fast paced, extremely athletic form of competition. The popularity of the sport is growing in America most commonly among those with Irish Heritage. I can't wait to incorporate the sport I have played since I was 7 into my P.E. program. The sport looks like a mix of several others, a combination of soccer, rugby, basketball, volleyball and more. Gaelic Football can make an argument for every component of health and skill related fitness. The Irish sport requires endurance, speed, strength, power, coordination, agility, accuracy, balance, flexibility and more. Take a look at a youtube video of Gaelic football and feel free to contact me for any questions about the sport. Below is a video of Highlights of the Gaelic Football Championships in Ireland. The game is very physical as you will see so adaptations must be made for a P.E. setting.

for clips on the rules of the game check out this link: